What Are the Heir's Rights Under a Probated Will?

By Anna Assad

A person who receives property or a share of an estate under a will has certain rights as soon as the will is probated. Probate, a court proceeding that affirms the will's validity and gives the executor the legal authority to distribute the estate, is designed to protect the rights of will beneficiaries.

A person who receives property or a share of an estate under a will has certain rights as soon as the will is probated. Probate, a court proceeding that affirms the will's validity and gives the executor the legal authority to distribute the estate, is designed to protect the rights of will beneficiaries.

Timely Transfers and Information

A beneficiary has the right to receive the share he got under the will in a timely manner and to receive written notice of the probate proceedings. How long it takes the executor to settle an estate depends on various factors, including the estate's size and what type of property the decedent owned. For example, if the decedent owned real estate and the property must be sold, the executor has to put the property up for sale, find a buyer and close the deal. In this case, the beneficiaries may have to wait months before receiving the sale proceeds. Will beneficiaries are entitled to information about the estate, including the property the decedent owned and the property's values and his debt. An executor must give a will beneficiary information about the estate if she requests it, and she has the right to see the will itself and documents related to the estate, such as the funeral bill.

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Accounting

A beneficiary may ask the executor for an account of what he's done on behalf of the estate. An account should be in writing, and the executor is expected to provide supporting papers, such as receipts or canceled checks for payments, proof of asset transfers and statements from any estate bank accounts. The supporting papers must match up with the information on the account the executor provides.

Proper Will Administration

The will beneficiaries are entitled to an executor who performs his duties fully and honestly. An executor must not act in a way that harms the estate. He cannot favor one beneficiary over another, behave in a dishonest or illegal manner or fail to live up to his legal obligations. A will beneficiary may petition the court if she believes the executor isn't performing his duties properly, but she must have proof to support her complaint. For example, if she believes the executor is taking money from the estate to cover personal expenses, she'll need financial statements that back up this allegation. If the court agrees with the beneficiary, the court may remove the executor and revoke his authority.

Executor Compensation Approval

Beneficiaries have the right to approve or deny the level of compensation an executor requests for his services. Not all executors are paid; a relative may act as executor and waive compensation. If the court granted an executor's compensation request before the estate is settled without the beneficiaries' approval, the beneficiaries may challenge the amount later. If the court finds the executor received an excessive amount of compensation, the executor may have to pay the beneficiaries back with interest.

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Executor & Beneficiary Rights to an Estate

References

Related articles

An Executor's Duties to a Beneficiary

Executors are individuals who are appointed through a will to ensure the wishes of the testator, person who created the will, are carried out. In some states, executors are called personal representatives. Since the testator is deceased, the executor owes certain duties to those who stand to benefit from the deceased's will, known as beneficiaries. While the primary duty of the executor is to follow the instructions of the testator and administer the will as written, the executor has other legal duties, called fiduciary duties, he owes the beneficiaries.

What Law Governs Executor's Fees?

An executor manages a person's estate and is entitled to receive compensation for his services. State law may determine how much an executor receives, but various factors influence the calculation, including the estate size and any restrictions the law places on executor payment.

Iowa State Laws on Executors

Probate is the process by which your estate is transferred to your beneficiaries after your death. An executor is the person you appointed in your will who is responsible for overseeing the probate process. In Iowa, the executor is also referred to as the personal representative. Your executor has a duty to act in accordance with your wishes and in the best interests of your beneficiaries.

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